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Focus on bar exam prep pays off for Class of 2012

Bar prep is a notoriously difficult time for a new law grad, a process that begins just after Memorial Day and ends, hopefully for good, in an air-conditioned hotel convention center sometime in July. Last summer the Penn State Law Class of 2012 sat for bar exams in 25 states. Ninety-one percent of them passed on the first attempt and have joined the ranks of those licensed to practice law. In addition to many happy students, their families, and employers, another person who is pleased about the higher-than-average Penn State Law bar pass rate is Keith Elkin, Dean of Students, who organizes an annual bar preparation program for Penn State Law graduates. 

Elkin is the author of MBE: Beginning Your Campaign to Pass the Bar Exam. “Studying for the bar is like running for president,” he said in an interview. Candidates need not win every state, just those with the most electoral votes. Elkin advises students to focus on the heaviest elements of the bar exam—negligence, contract formation, individual rights, and so on. The bar pass program Elkin designed also includes additional tutoring in legal writing to students who request it. The bar preparation program is provided to Penn State Law graduates every summer at no charge.

The results demonstrate just how hard these students have worked to prepare. I think I speak for all of the faculty when I say that we couldn’t be prouder,” Elkin said.

Penn State Law students did especially well in Pennsylvania and New York, where about 2/3 of them chose to take the bar exam. 


Statewide first-time
pass rate

Penn State Law grad pass rate




New York




Student feedback on the bar prep program has also been positive.
“…taking the Bar Review class with you last semester was a one of the best decisions I made in law school. The MBE was not as mysterious and did not seem as daunting. With no MBE anxiety I was able to focus on the knit-picky Florida procedural laws. Thanks for giving up your Saturdays last semester to help me pass the Bar...”

“I feel much more confident going into the summer [commercial] course. Going through how to approach the MBE was fantastic…it [even] helped me improve my MPRE score by 15 points…”


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